Trips in 2013: Thailand part 3/5: Outings.

While I loved hanging out by the hotel pool or in downtown Ao Nang it would have got a bit boring in the long run. As luck would have it, Ao Nang is a great starting point for exploring the Krabi province of Thailand and we ended up going on quite a few outings during our stay there.

Our first outing was the traditional "Four Islands" outing that a myriad of the more or less serious little travel agencies in Ao Nang offer. Our rendition of the trip was far from perfectly organized but we ended up having a good time anyway. As per usual when it comes to these trips the travel agency sent a car to pick us up at the hotel. The guide was loud and pretty strange, but in a charming way. We were taken to a little harbour outside of Ao Nang and once there we got on the boat that would take us of a tour of the islands closest to Ao Nang. Based on the itinerary, we expected that we'd start by having lunch on the beach so we didn't eat anything more than breakfast before we left. However, as it turned out, the meal included in the outing was dinner. Fortunately, we managed to stock up on snacks on the first island we went to, which was Tup Island. During low tide Tup Island is connected to the nearby Chicken Island (I think you can tell where the latter gets its name based on the 4th image below). When we got there the islands weren't yet connected but in the hour that we stayed there the water pulled back to reveal a thin little strip of sand that connected the islands (which you can see in the 3rd image). We walked across to Chicken Island and back again and (to someone who isn't used to tidal changes at all) it was fascinating to see how much wider the path had grown in the short time that it took us to walk across.

Once we left those two islands we went to a nearby island where we got the opportunity to do some snorkeling. I am a coward when it comes to water so I refrained, but I managed to see quite a few fish when I went swimming in the water near the boat. This was actually my first time swimming in the sea on this trip.

Later on we visited Poda Island and had our longawaited dinner - barbecued fish and chicken. We also got to watch the sun set and see it get almost completely dark. The island was uninhabited and our group was the last one to leave. As we were eating we saw thousands of bats flying above us which was pretty surreal. I guess they were off on their nightly hunting trip on another island or maybe on the mainland.

Since we'd had enough of boats for a while we decided to make our next outing one where we wouldn't have to leave the mainland. We ended up going to the Klong Thom Thermal Waterfall, also known as Krabi's hot springs. It's a small waterfall fed by a hot spring where the water gets as high as 50 degrees. It was such a weird feeling to swim in such warm water, especially considering that it was over 30 degrees in the air. The little pond where the water gathers before it runs down to the river below was too warm for me but Per stayed in for several minutes. I only dipped my feet in it. It was quite pleasant to swim where the water mixed with the cooler river water though.

After our visit to the hot springs we ventured on to this scenic pond in the middle of the jungle and went swimming there as well.

On our way home we made one final stop during which we got to ride on elephants! It was my first time and I was more than a little bit nervous when I got up on it. At first Per and I both sat on the seat on its back but then Per got to sit beneath on the elephant. I told him I was glad it was him and not me, but about halfway through the ride the guide asked me if I wanted to sit on the elephant too and I figured why not and went through with. It was actually not that scary, except the one time the elephant walked pretty close to the edge of a hill that overlooked the pond we ended up going into later on. Obviously I realized that it wouldn't do anything crazy like jump in from so high up but eeek it made me nervous lol. Our guide didn't speak English very well but I gathered that our elephant was about twenty years old. We got to feed it bananas at the end. Elephants are such magnificent yet gentle creatures, I find them so fascinating.

One day we decided to see where the staircase at the end of the beach in Ao Nang led to. I had looked at a map and seen that there was a resort just on the other side of the cliff at the edge of the beach, so I suspected that that was where we'd end up, but the staircase could just as well have had a dead-end because it was pretty worn down. As it turned out my suspicion was right and the staircase ended in Pai Plong Bay, which is on the mainland but only accessible by boat or by walking across the cliff that surrounds it, which is what we did. The bay didn't seem to be very well known because we and a handful of other tourists where the only ones who'd found our way there that day. It was also home to the Centara Resort which had its share of guests, but there were very few people hanging out on the beach. We ended up staying there for several hours, marvelling at how beautiful it was. Being there felt a bit like being stuck in a postcard, in a good way :) The water was great for swimming, and the hotel restaurant by the beach had the best food and I got another pretty drink. I would definitely like to go back there someday, perhaps even stay at the resort for a few days.

A few days later we felt ready for another outing by boat so we headed for Hong Island. On the way there we made a short stop at Pak Bia Island where we got to swim for a while and feed a school of fish with bananas.

Before reaching Hong Island we also visited Lading Island. It also goes by the name of Paradise Island and it was pretty obvious why :) We had lunch there and treated another school of fish to a bunch of bananas and grapes. It was so cool to be completely surrounded by fish eating fruit out of my hand! (You'll have to excuse the outfit, I had got a bit burnt in the sun the previous day and deemed that regular sun screen wouldn't be enough so I borrowed a tee from Per to swim in.)

Finally, we reached Hong Island. At first we visited Hong Lagoon and then got to spend the rest of the day on the beach. It was a bit crowded, but soo lovely.

The day before we went home we caught a long-tail boat to the famous Railay Beach. Just like Pai Plong Bay it's surrounded by high limestone cliffs and only accessible by boat. Railay Beach is far more developed though and has quite a few hotels, restaurants and shops. We didn't like it as much as Pai Plong Bay for that reason but I am glad we got to see what it's like, and it certainly wasn't unpretty:

We also walked across the Railay peninsula to the more secluded Phra Nang Cave beach and got to see the Phra Nang Cave.

I hope this entry wasn't too overwhelming. I tried not to make it too detailed but I realize it got quite long anyway since I had so much ground to cover :P

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